Hot House/Tri-Continental Series I: Come Back Africa and Mortu - Nega (Those Whom Death Refused)

Directed by: various

DOUBLE BILL | NOVEMBER 17, 2018 | 7:00 PM

Come Back Africa

Directed by Lionel Rogosin, 1959, 95 min.

Come Back, Africa Chronicles the life of Zachariah, a black South African living under the harsh rule of the apartheid government in 1959.

Lionel Rogosin’s 1959 powerful classic Come Back, Africa is one of the bravest and best of all political films. After witnessing firsthand the terrors of fascism as a soldier in World War II, Lionel Rogosin vowed to fight against it wherever and whenever he saw it reemerging. In an effort to expose “what people try to avoid seeing,” Rogosin travelled to South Africa and secretly filmed Come Back, Africa, which revealed the cruelty and injustice suffered by black and colored peoples under apartheid.
Much of Come Back, Africa was filmed in Sophiatown, a ghetto reserved for blacks and a vibrant center of music, art, literature and politics that has since become legendary. But even as they filmed, Sophiatown was already in the process of being demolished and its residents forcibly removed. Shortly after production ended, Sophiatown was emptied, razed and rebuilt as a whites-only suburb called Triumf. (Text provided by Milestone Films)
“A heroic film… a film of terrible beauty, of the ongoing life it captured and of the spirit embodied by Rogosin and his fellow artists.” —Martin Scorsese 
 “Come Back, Africa is both history and legend, about real, ordinary people in extraordinary—and ongoing circumstances. The film remains complicated, interlacing stories and backstories, revealing at once adversities and strategies of survival.” – Cynthia Fuchs, 
“A timely and remarkable piece of cinema.” —Time Magazine 
“The sound of the beating of the consciousness of a waking Africa.” —Jonas Mekas, Village Voice
Mortu – Nega (Those Whom Death Refused)
Directed by Flora Gomes, 1988, 85 min. 

The story of a woman who searches through the country for her husband, a resistant, while the war for independence is raging. She finds him at last and saves his life. When peace finally arrives, they have to learn how to be together again and start living in a destroyed land. 
Produced in 1988 near the midpoint of these dates, Mortu Nega, as its title implies, is a unique kind of elegy - not so much to the victims of the liberation struggle as to its survivors. Like the Zimbabwean film Flame (1996) and Gomes' own more disillusioned second feature Udju Azul di Yonta (1991), it is a bittersweet eulogy to those veterans who gave so much yet often benefited so little from the struggle. The film poses a question facing much of Africa at the start of the 21st century: with the goal of independence achieved, what can serve as an equally unifying and compelling vision around which to construct a new society? (Text provided by California Newsreel)
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